Gender and Land Rights in Jharkhand Essay Example
Gender and Land Rights in Jharkhand Essay Example

Gender and Land Rights in Jharkhand Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 15 (3979 words)
  • Published: August 10, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Jharkhand, which was separated from Bihar on November 15, 2000, derives its name from the Chotanagpur tableland situated in the eastern part of the Vindhya mountain series. This forested region is renowned for its distinctive culture and ample natural resources. Additionally, Jharkhand possesses a significant historical background encompassing various facets of society and politics.

Jharkhand is a province with a moderate population size. It is divided into three regions: Chotanagpur, Santhal Pargana, and Singhbhum, each with its own distinct geography and culture. According to the 2001 census, the total population of Jharkhand is 2.69 crore, with an average annual exponential growth rate of 2.1%. Tribal people make up around 28% of the province's population, while scheduled caste individuals account for 12%. At the beginning of the century, tribal people constituted 60% of the region's population.

Jharkhand is a


state in India that is renowned for its rich mineral resources. Additionally, it boasts vast forests that encompass around 30% of its total land area. With an existing industrial infrastructure and valuable mineral reserves, Jharkhand has the potential to become the most economically prosperous state in India. The estimated rural population of this province is 2,09,22,731.

The province has a primarily rural nature, with 77.75% of the population living in rural areas and the remaining 22.25% residing in urban areas. The province's total population is 59,86,697 people, resulting in a population density of 338 per square kilometer.

Jharkhand, an Indian province, has an underdeveloped economy and inadequate irrigation infrastructure causing periodic drought. It covers a total area of 79,714 sq. km. with a population of 26.9 million people. The province is divided into 24 territories, 211 blocks, and 32,615 small towns.

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

Additionally, gender inequality continues to be a significant human rights concern in the nation.

Gender bias is a unique form of discrimination that unfairly limits women's freedom to choose their own paths for personal growth and advancement. Despite government efforts to promote gender equality, these disparities have led to significant socio-economic challenges for women. In Jharkhand, there is a noticeable gap in the number of male and female children, as well as differences in life expectancy at birth. A closer analysis of census data reveals higher mortality rates, indicating inadequate healthcare services for the entire population.

The social status of women in Jharkhand, like in other Indian communities, is determined by the traditional patriarchal system which has historically governed different aspects of their lives. Their main duties include managing the household and fulfilling marital responsibilities. They are expected to bear children to continue the family lineage. For many women, life has been a difficult journey filled with obstacles from both internal and external sources.

In Jharkhand, women experience similar discrimination and disadvantages as women in other parts of the country. They share characteristics such as low literacy and education levels, involvement in unpaid work, limited participation in the workforce, minimal property rights, and even discrimination within their own families. The Gender Profile for Jharkhand aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the socio-economic status of women in this tribal state by examining various issues affecting their lives. These include social status, economic situation, and barriers they face. This section assesses the position of women in Jharkhand using selected gender development indicators that reflect demographic, educational, health-related, socio-cultural, and economic factors.

The sex ratio in the province is currently 941,

with certain areas showing improvement. For example, in Koderma, it is relatively better at 1001. However, the overall sex ratio is rapidly deteriorating. It is worth noting that among tribals, the sex ratio is higher compared to the general population.

In rural countries, the sex ratio is higher compared to urban countries due to factors such as poor health and nutrition of women, lack of awareness, lower social and economic status, and male migration from rural to urban areas driven by economic reasons. According to NFHS 2 data, Jharkhand ranks 8th in Infant Mortality and 14th in child mortality. The high rate of infant and child mortality in Jharkhand is strongly linked to the high fertility rate and frequent pregnancies among women. Geographical location also significantly influences rates of infant and child mortality. Children born to low-income illiterate teenage mothers living in rural areas face disadvantages when compared with more privileged individuals.

Jharkhand's infant mortality rate was 54 deaths per 1,000 live births in the five-year period prior to the report. This rate is significantly lower than Bihar's rate of 78. Jharkhand also had a child mortality rate of 25. Overall, out of every 1,000 children born in Jharkhand, 78 die before reaching the age of five. This means that approximately 1 in 19 children pass away within their first year and 1 in 13 do not reach the age of five. According to NFHS-2 estimates and current birth rates, women in Jharkhand are projected to have an average of 2.8 children during their reproductive years.

To effectively reduce fertility, specific groups with above-average birth rates should be targeted. These groups include illiterate women, those from low or

average socioeconomic backgrounds, scheduled castes or other backward categories (OBC), Muslim women, and young women in both Jharkhand and Bihar. It is worth noting that around 25% of births in these regions occur within 24 months of the previous birth.

The average age for first childbirth is 19 years, the same as Bihar. Women aged 15-19 account for 17% of total fertility. Focusing family planning programs on this age group would greatly improve maternal and child health while reducing overall fertility in the province. Approximately half of all cases of maternal mortality are caused by bleeding and anemia, which present a significant health danger.

In Jharkhand province, anemia is a significant problem caused by inadequate nutrient intake and lack of dietary variety. This issue is especially prevalent among pregnant adult females due to their reliance on seasonal crops and uneven nutrient consumption. The region has high rates of underweight (54%), stunted (49%), and wasted (25%) children under three years old according to global standards. Bihar state also faces similar challenges with 54% underweight, 55% stunted, and 20% wasted children. In rural areas of Jharkhand province, malnutrition rates are higher compared to urban areas, affecting disadvantaged groups such as tribal communities, children with less educated mothers, and those living in poor conditions. Both girls and boys have a similar percentage of underweight children; however, girls are slightly more likely to be stunted while boys are slightly more prone to wasting.

Over 80% of children aged 6.35 months have anemia, impacting various population subgroups. HIV/AIDS prevalence is a significant issue in India, with around 90% of adult females in Jharkhand (85%) being unaware of AIDS compared to the national average

of 60%. In fact, awareness regarding AIDS is lower in Jharkhand than any other state except Bihar. Particularly, women residing in rural areas and facing socioeconomic disadvantages possess significantly restricted knowledge about AIDS.

Television is the primary information source about AIDS for 83% of adult females who are aware of the disease, whereas radio is relied upon by 49%. Concerningly, 49% of these women remain uninformed about any prevention methods. The education of women plays a crucial role in enhancing health conditions and promoting a nation's development and progress.

Education has been found to partially alleviate the negative impact of poverty on health, irrespective of the availability of healthcare facilities. In India, there are notable gender disparities in education, particularly at the primary, upper-primary, and higher levels of schooling. A preliminary field study indicates that literacy rates in the surveyed areas are extremely low, especially among women. This inequality can be attributed to societal attitudes, limited access to schools, and traditional gender roles within families. Jharkhand and Bihar have the lowest female literacy rate at 39.98%, while male literacy rate exceeds that of females at 67.94% compared to 39.38%.

The text investigates the disparity in literacy rates among genders, particularly focusing on the absence of basic education for girls. Various factors contribute to this problem, including limited access to education, familial obligations, early marriage and childbirth, gender bias, and socio-cultural influences like parental preferences for educating boys. Many girls who are enrolled in school are unable to attend classes due to scarce educational opportunities influenced by traditional values that prioritize males' education. Moreover, poverty serves as an obstacle preventing girls from obtaining an education.

The first step in formal

education is literacy, which refers to the ability to read and write. The progress of female literacy has been noticeable, as there was a 15% increase in the proportion of literate women from 39% to 54% between 1991 and 2001. Despite these achievements, Jharkhand still has one of the lowest rates of female literacy compared to other provinces. Limited access to schools, teachers, resources, and infrastructure are contributing factors to low literacy rates for both genders. However, it is societal attitudes and perceptions that significantly impact the lower preference for educating girls.

Gender inequality in the labor market remains prevalent, particularly concerning women's wages and opportunities. Women often occupy lower-paying and lower-ranking roles, face higher unemployment rates, and are more likely to work in the informal sector. Even within the formal sector, there is a significant gender imbalance despite women's education and skills. Overall, women constitute merely 26.40% of all workers while men account for 48.21%. These statistics underscore a marked disparity in female workforce participation compared to their male counterparts.

The female work engagement rate (FWPR) is determined by calculating the percentage of female main and marginal workers among the female population. According to standard definitions of economic activity, FWPR tends to be low. In India, only 30 percent of women are considered workers, either main or marginal. Jharkhand ranks 14th in FWPR with a score of 35.1 and 11th in the Gender gap in employment with a score of 30.1 out of 28 states. These figures suggest that there is an average level of women's labor participation in community-based administration of subsistence production since they are close to the national average. Only 31.7 percent of

women have been employed in any form within the past year.

India's employment is primarily in the unorganised sector, which includes agribusiness and day-to-day rewards, accounting for over 90% of the workforce. According to UNDP estimates (UNDP HDR 1998), India's GEM scores are very low at 0.228. However, a more relevant assessment for India is provided through the mentioned indices. Despite having higher GEM scores of 0.497 (double that of UNDP's estimate), these values still indicate significant gender disparities in empowerment. The GEM scores consist of three indices: the Index of 'Political Participation and Decision-making Power' (PI), the Index of 'Economic Participation and Decision-making Power' (EI), and the Index of 'Power over Economic Resources' (PoERI). In 2006, India's GEM index value was 0.435, showing improvement from its previous value of 0.278 in 1996.

Ranked 26th among all provinces and brotherhood districts, this province has witnessed notable advancements in GEM scores and rankings throughout the past decade. It experiences various forms of violence against women within households, such as marital cruelty, dowry-related killings, child abuse, incestuous acts, and domestic violence. Additionally, the community is involved in incidences of rape, sexual harassment, eve-teasing (street harassment), trafficking, and gender-based discrimination against women. The province is notorious for instances of violence by custodial authorities and institutional neglect. Witchcraft practices are prevalent in the tribal belt of Jharkhand.

In most instances, killers are motivated by the desire to steal possessions or seek vengeance against the victim's family. To legitimize their heinous deeds, villagers frequently label a female member of a particular family as a witch, persuading other villagers to pursue or murder the victim's family. The villagers hold the belief that these women

identified as witches bear responsibility for illness, death, and drought. Indian indigenous communities are experiencing an escalating disparity in gender dynamics.

For the past two decades, the issue of women's land rights has been a topic of discussion in societies that have assimilated into mainstream Indian society. However, progress in this area has been limited and it raises questions about why women haven't organized to assert their land rights and what factors impede collective action among women.
One reason is the intrinsic nature of land as a resource and the mutual dependence between men and women in its productive utilization. Gender alone does not solely influence women's drive to assert their land claims and oppose others' claims; factors such as ethnicity, education, family relationships, and marital status also play a role.

The support of men appears to increase the likelihood of success for adult females in their land claims. Instead of forming alliances with other women, those who are serious about their claims seek alliances with influential men. Men also take different positions based on their own experiences and circumstances. Framing women's land claims as a gender issue reveals hesitation among women to rally around this cause and increased resistance from men. Women without independent resources face a higher risk of poverty and destitution if abandoned, divorced, or widowed.

Giving women access to land can be a crucial aspect of a diverse support system, improving the well-being of both women and their families, even if the land is not enough to fully sustain a family. Providing women with land empowers them economically and strengthens their ability to challenge social and political gender injustices. Traditional practices, such as Tabenjom, which

once benefited married and single women, have disappeared from society. These practices offered behavior benefits but no rights for women. However, due to changing circumstances, these practices have vanished, leaving women severely affected and often destitute. Tribal women now demand joint ownership of their husband's property. Settlements have not occurred in many places since 1911, then in 1935, and finally in 1964-65.

Currently, various groups are advocating for a settlement in the name of both men and women as no settlement has been established so far. Women are particularly affected by displacement, mining, migration, and development, resulting in them losing their rights to land and resources. As a result, women are now speaking up for their rights in relation to land and resources. In Jharkhand, a historically tribal society existed as a cohesive community residing near forests. Within their own boundaries, they had a functional social, cultural, and political system.

Both the work force and adult females had equal responsibilities towards the household and society and played equal roles. The land relied on a collective system, where a district was delineated and controlled by the local self-administrative systems of small towns, such as Manki Munda of the Ho people, Majhi parha of the Santhal people, and Parha panchayets of the Munda people. Additionally, other communities like Oraon, Birhor, and Paharia had their own unique administrative systems. This tradition was not recorded in writing but was operational based on certain beliefs and myths.

The adult females enjoyed equal chance and played function of small town caput in the administrative system. The British brought tectonic alterations into this traditional administrative system through the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793, which greatly

undermined the traditions and imposts of the tribal 's communities. Contrary to the Mughal land gross system, this Act introduced fixed land gross independent of local terrain and climatic conditions. Additionally, it introduced Zamindars to roll up it and "ghatwals" to keep jurisprudence and order. As a result, the peasant tribals were transformed into tenant husbandmans and stripped of the land rubric along with other rights and privileges they had enjoyed in the Mughal period.

However, in Jharkhand, Britons introduced the patta system or "Khatiyans" (land title title), which replaced communalism with individuality. Common belongings became private as the strong patriarchate emerged, with the names of male members being included in the patta or "Khatiyan", while the entry of women's names was restricted. This was largely done by the Britons to create a distinction within tribal families.

This marked the beginning of the decline of women's influence in the traditional governing system. Nowadays, there are hardly any women leading small towns. The struggle for land did not end in the tribal region. People from neighboring states deceitfully seized local land, taking advantage of the hospitality shown by the tribal community. The tribals had welcomed them as guests, unaware of their true intentions, resulting in the illegal acquisition of many lands by these migrants who came to settle in the area. Some of the initial migrants obtained land from the Zamindars.

The strong motivations of the migrants attracted tribal girls to marry them, causing widespread suffering for the land. This anger among the tribal communities led to a reinforcement of patriarchal values and disregarded women's rights to land.

The impact of this was also felt in the traditional system and

involvement of women in the administrative system came to a halt. While there were other factors contributing to the decline of the traditional system in tribal areas, the presence of women became insignificant. Even the customary practice of "Tamenjom" in Santhal culture, where a girl is given a portion of household land, was rarely observed. The tribal communities such as Munda, Ho, and Oraon completely disregarded women's rights over family land. The role of women was reduced to being caretakers of inherited land, without any entitlement in their names.

In the tribe, single adult females were given the land of their male parent as caretakers, but not as owners. The role of a widow became more prominent as a caretaker until only her sons had access to land rights. This practice continues today, with tribal women still not having the same mindset as tribal men or even other women when it comes to land ownership. There was much opposition from tribal men when discussions arose about granting land to women.

This is mainly due to the ongoing land disputes between the tribals and various groups, including foreigners and transnational companies, who are trying to acquire tribal land for financial gain. These encroachers are commonly referred to as "Dikus". Given this situation, it is difficult for tribal men to consider giving a portion of land to women. In the past, the issue of land disputes between tribes and corporate or transnational companies also led to women being exploited through marriage for land. One important aspect that was previously overlooked is that men were also involved in the loss of land to foreigners, although this was rarely discussed.

They gave

many lands to others through their easy traveling and incorrect wonts. Even though they encourage non tribal men marrying tribal women, they cannot tolerate a tribal woman marrying a non tribal man. The land for urban tribal women also came from the same history that limited their access to land rights as compared to non-tribal women. Traditional laws in tribal societies did not align with Indian laws regarding property rights for daughters. The land reforms implemented by the Forest Department also led to loss of tribal lands.

The Forest Right Act of 2006 was not introduced properly at the grassroots level. Although this Act became functional in 2008, there was no distribution of patta. However, adult females in neighboring provinces like Orissa and Chattisgarh were able to benefit from this Act by having joint names in the patta. Unfortunately, in Jharkhand, the implementation of the Act is still in progress and achieving joint names in the patta is still a long process.

This concept was completely foreign to tribal men, who believed that women were not strong enough to handle various situations. Throughout history, they have witnessed women actively participating in land battles against multinational companies. However, when it comes to women's rights to land, they remain silent and uphold traditional values and norms. Although advocacy efforts were made by organizations and activists to secure land rights for women, the resistance from tribal political leaders prevented progress. Other solutions, such as including wives' names in the "Khatian" (land title), are being attempted, but organizations and activists continue to face challenges in this matter.

The tribal society undergoes various forms of discrimination against girls, resulting in the erosion of

their rights and hindering their ability to own land. To address this issue, it is crucial to raise awareness among tribal communities, starting from traditional groups to urban areas. Only through collective consciousness can the recognition of land rights for tribal women be achieved. Women are excluded from decision-making processes and are absent from the meetings of gram panchayats due to cultural and social factors such as female seclusion and the disregard for their ideas. These local institutions fail to foster meaningful participation among women. Moreover, rural individuals, particularly rural women, often lack access to media sources and rely on information provided by local authorities and gram panchayats.

However, government officials often lack awareness of changes in legislation or policies, resulting in their inability to provide people with accurate information or the necessary support to protect their interests. Due to economic and social dependence on their families, women often forfeit their legal rights in favor of male household members. Additionally, in certain regions, it is culturally discouraged for a woman to assert her rights in court when faced with her male relatives. The unequal education status and restrictions on mobility further exacerbate the circumstances for women. Limited privacy for women restricts their ability to move freely and participate in activities outside the home, hindering their access to information on new agricultural technologies and practices, as well as purchasing inputs and selling products.

By providing land to adult females, they can be economically empowered and better able to address gender discrimination in society and politics. Access to land helps them gain recognition and can significantly impact their bargaining power at home and in the community. It also boosts

their confidence, willpower, and ability to negotiate better wages in the labor market. Furthermore, it enables their participation in decision-making bodies, advocates for their rights, allows them to pass down property to their daughters, grants greater mobility, and ensures a secure future.

When women possess land along with skills, they can break free from the confines of their homes with the assurance that their land cannot be misused or sold without their consent. This reduces domestic violence and allows them to participate in family decision-making, such as determining whether or not to sell the land. In many cases, unmarried Ho women are more prevalent compared to women in other non-tribal communities as a means of safeguarding their rights to parental land.

However, as married women, their land rights become less secure, as they can be abandoned or forced to leave their matrimonial homes without any guarantee of maintenance.

In the tribal community, when a single or widowed adult female exercises her usufructuary rights over land, she becomes extremely vulnerable to the greed and land hunger of unscrupulous male relatives who believe they can take the land if they can simply remove her from the equation. As a result, she is often either forced to give up her lifelong usufructuary right or she becomes a target of various forms of violent attacks. The loss of usufructuary rights among tribal women due to rape by dikus (foreigners; non-tribals) has been on the rise as the tribal society is increasingly infiltrated by outsiders, and the impoverishment of the tribal peasantry pushes the tribals to seek employment outside their communities in order to survive. A large majority of this desperate migrant labor

force is made up of women.

Wherever women are forced to seek work, whether it be in mines, brick kilns, or on irrigation projects, as agricultural laborers or as domestic servants, they experience sexual abuse and exploitation. Even when they reside in their small towns, they are not safe from sexual abuse by male foreigners such as wood guards and the police. Women who have land rights often face unnecessary legal proceedings initiated by male relatives. The only time they are allowed to raise money by mortgaging their land is when they need funds for legal expenses. Ironically, in many cases, they end up losing their land either by losing the court case or by attempting to pay the costs of the legal proceedings. Often, they are dragged to court with this exact outcome in mind.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds